UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Complete Sweep of Denver in First NCHC Weekend

GRAND FORKS, ND– Following up on Friday’s victory, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were able to give an encore performance of their all-around performance with a 4-1 victory over Denver Saturday night, sweeping the first weekend of conference play. Things, however, took a turn late in the game, as the rivalry boiled over on many fronts.

North Dakota got off to a quick start with plenty of offense from the start. The persistence paid off as 4:59 in, Ashton Calder’s pressure on the Denver point created a turnover, which lead to Matteo Costantini breaking away from the pack and putting home his third of the year past Magnus Chrona to make it 1-0 UND. The pressure continued, as the zone time for UND was big in the first frame, leading to 12 shot on goal in the first period. Just after the midway mark, Judd Caulfield spun out of the corner and drove to the net, creating a rebound for Tyler Kleven to make it 2-0. It was the first of three four-on-four goals for the Hawks on the evening.

The second period had Denver coming back a little more, putting pressure on Zach Driscoll a little more, but Driscoll was equal to most task. The only hiccup on the record was an attack 6:24 into the second, when Ryan Barrow was the recipent of a great passing play between himself, Jack Devine, and Brett Stapley to cut the UND lead in half after Barrow put it over the glove of Driscoll. The Hawks didn’t pressure Chrona as much as they did in the first, but the chances they did have were quality and created by an aggressive forecheck on the Denver defense.

Four-on-four play struck again for North Dakota, as Riese Gaber took a Jake Sanderson breakout pass the length of the ice, making a power move cutting in from the far boards, and tucked it under Chrona for the 3-1 marker. North Dakota kept the pressure on, hitting a few posts behind Chrona but not finding the back of the net. The transition and pressure of North Dakota halted many chances for Denver to get back into the game.

Things then took a turn, as with the Denver net empty, Mark Senden looked to seal the game, but Carter Savoie came across the ice, leapt towards Senden who was trying to gather the puck up, and Savoie’s forearm hit Senden in the head, knocking the UND captain to the heap on the ice and creating a stir after the fact. Senden went off with assistance from the trainer and Savoie got a five and game for his troubles. Things continued to get feisty, as Tyler Kleven’s big hit upon Denver’s zone entry was a bit too high for the liking of the officials and he got a five and game, as well.

At the end, Calder got the open net goal and UND secured the sweep of the weekend. It puts the Hawks at 2-0-0 in NCHC play as they head to Miami next weekend.

THEY SAID IT

“This was a character-builder and for sure a team-builder for our team for the year, the way they battled up. I think that was learning lesson last night, kind of sit back in the third period with a one-goal lead. We said you know what, we’re not sitting back, playing not to lose, we’re playing to win.”– Head coach Brad Berry on his team’s performance Saturday.

“That was huge for us confidence-wise. I think not a lot of people expected that. I know we have a lot of belief within our team here. We definitely showed that tonight.”– Riese Gaber on the meaning of this sweep.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Get Home Cooking with Win Over Pioneers

GRAND FORKS, ND– After a trip to Nashville that saw the University of North Dakota have the crowd support behind them, but not get the goal support they needed; the Fighting Hawks returned home to right the ship a little bit as they took on Denver Friday night in the first NCHC contest of the season. A second period burst allowed UND to get the better of the Pioneers and take the first game of the weekend 3-1. 

The first period of the contest was quite a feeling out portion, with plenty of neutral zone play. Both Zach Driscoll and Magnus Chrona were tested a little bit, but not much out of the ordinary for shots. However, with North Dakota having a disadvantage in shots and goals in the first period this season, to come out of it ahead on shots (8-5) and in a scoreless draw is a step in the right direction for the team. 

UND got off to a quick start in the second, with Riese Gaber getting a solid look after cutting through the defense, but could not beat Chrona. Same for Ashton Calder, who had a solid look from the slot, but to no avail. The Hawks caught a break near the halfway mark, as Kyle Mayhew was down behind the Denver net, giving UND an advantage, which Brady Ferner recognized. Ferner passed it up to Judd Caulfield for what essentially was a 2-on-0, where he slid it over to Matteo Costantini to put UND up 1-0. Forty-nine seconds later, a hard forecheck by captain Mark Senden caused a turnover and allowed Senden to find Louis Jamernik in front for the 2-0 goal. 

“(Budy) dumped the puck in and I knew I had to get a step on their d-man and separate him from the puck,” recollected Senden post-game. “I heard (Jamernik) yelling for it, so I just tried to put it in an area where he was calling for it and just super, super excited for it to go in.”

Later in the frame, Driscoll made probably his best save of the season, stopping a cross-crease pass in front, getting his pad out to keep his sheet clean. It didn’t last much longer, as after a Massimo Rizzo left the box serving a bench minor, Hawks defenseman Chris Jandric had his stretch pass intercepted by Rizzo out of the box, who found Cameron Wright to make it 2-1 after two. 

Try as they might, Denver kept the pressure on UND in the third period. They capitalized on errant passes out of the zone, while maintaining possession after shots to try and get the equalizer. It was for naught, as UND held down the fort and played a solid defensive game in front of Driscoll, which led to a Jamernik empty-net goal to secure the UND 3-1 victory. 

THEY SAID IT

“It’s not something you like to have, especially down in Nashville. But definitely guys look at themselves in the mirror and figure out what they need to do to get better. There’s a lot of expectations on us to come in and win games. A good week of practice here led to a good Friday night.”– Driscoll on if the Penn State game was a wake-up call for the team.

“We started really good today. Our focus was to start hard and quick. I thought we got off to a lot better start and continued to fight hard in the second just being a hard and heavy team to play against.”– Senden on the quick start for the team.

“I think it gave our guys a spark. Like, ‘okay, we’ve got to pull up our bootstraps because we’ve got a key guy out.’ The guys were fired up, they were able to get a couple goals and be on the forecheck. I’m proud of how the guys responded.”– Head coach Brad Berry on his team’s reaction to losing Connor Ford after the first period.

UND HOCKEY: Late Heroics Fuel Hawks OT Victory

GRAND FORKS, ND– While it wasn’t the prettiest game played, the University of North Dakota came back home to start a five-game homestand on the right foot with an overtime win against the Bemidji State Beavers. However, it wasn’t until late in the third and early in overtime when the Fighting Hawks turned it on, something that coach Brad Berry was looking to do from the start, including calling his timeout midway through the first period.

“You try to find out early in the game who’s going, who has momentum,” said Berry postgame. “I thought there were probably two guys on each line going and we tried to piece three lines together at the end.” 

“I think we were a little rattled, that would be the correct term,” mentioned Westin Michaud after the game. “(Coach) just said, ‘Calm down, execute our system, play our game,’ and it was a really good time-out by him because I think that was a momentum changer, for sure.”

The first period of the game wasn’t what many people would crisp. A lot of sloppy play on both ends of the ice lead to a scoreless first and the wonder was if the game would get the first goal on an own goal. UND has held without a shot for around 11 minutes of game play, after attacking Zach Driscoll’s net in the first shift. Many missed chances by Grant Mismash handling a one-time attempt too much and a couple of ill-advised passes when there could have been shots.

After an Ethan Fritsch boarding call, Bemidji struck first, as Owen Sillinger deflected home his second of the season and made it 1-0 Beavers. The Hawks were getting shots on Driscoll, but they weren’t necessarily the most high-quality chances when it came to trying to beat the Beavers’ netminder. It seemed after getting the lead, the Beavers build a defensive dam in the neutral zone to clog up the speed of UND.

The third was mostly the Beavers clogging up the ice, keeping the Hawks to the perimeter and making a lot of their shots from low percentage areas and thrown into defenders. That was until late in the frame, when Jordan Kawaguchi redirected a pass from Jacob Bernard-Docker in past Driscoll to tie the game. No goals happened past that so we were headed to overtime. 

Less than a minute into overtime, Shane Pinto won a draw in the Bemidji zone and Westin Michaud ripped one past Driscoll to win the game in overtime 2-1. The faceoff win was one of 41 for UND, who dominated in the circle, led by Jasper Weatherby’s 13 wins in the game.

THEY SAID IT

Westin Michaud/Photo Jen Conway, @NHLHistoryGirl

“Shane Pinto won that first draw straight back to Matt Kierstad. I kind of missed it, but Kiers had a great shot tipped. I went out and said, ‘Pinto, let’s go, do it again.’ And he did. I move half an inch left and fortunate enough, I saw the defender in the back there and pulled it, dragged it, and hope for it to go in.” — Westin Michaud on his game-winning goal. 

“Obviously wasn’t pretty. We found a way to get it done. It kind of shows the team we have, just to stick with it even when things aren’t going our way and we aren’t playing our best. When a good hockey team goes into a trap and takes away some options, you’re going to have some…some…discombobulation, I guess. That’s a big word for me.” — Jordan Kawaguchi on the style of game being played.